She lied about the flood that damaged the house, got FEMA payments: the feds



A woman has pleaded guilty to defrauding FEMA after lying about a historic flood that destroyed her Louisiana home, prosecutors say.

When a historic flood destroyed tens of thousands of homes in south Louisiana, a woman claimed hers was one of them and got off on FEMA payments, federal prosecutors say.

But she was lying, a FEMA inspector who visited the residence discovered after six deposits were made into her bank account totaling $22,104, court documents show.

Now Szynetia Anderson, 44, is from New Orleans pleaded guilty to FEMA fraud Six years after the natural disaster struck the state and killed several people in August 2016, according to an Aug. 18 news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

She faces up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine, according to the release.

McClatchy News reached out to Anderson’s attorney for comment on Aug. 19 and was awaiting a response.

When Anderson applied for financial assistance with FEMA, she submitted false records to support the lie that her Slidell rental apartment was no longer “livable” because of flooding, according to court documents.

“My tenant Ms Szynetia Anderson and her family had to move out of the house so that I could make repairs to make the house livable again. And safe,” said a handwritten note purportedly from the property owner that was filed with the FEMA application, prosecutors said.

As a result, starting in September 2016, FEMA deposited checks into her bank account until May 2017, according to court documents.

Shortly after, prosecutors said a FEMA inspector visited the apartment and found no damage, as Anderson claimed.

The property owner told investigators that the handwritten note Anderson submitted with the FEMA application was forged and added that she had stopped paying the monthly rent, court documents said.

Because of that, the property owner went to evict Anderson, but prosecutors say she was nowhere to be found because she still owes rent.

Anderson also faces up to three years of supervised release, the release said.

The storms and floods that hit south Louisiana in 2016 lasted from August 11 to August 31, according to FEMA. At least 13 people died and thousands were evacuated from their homes.

This aerial photo above Amite, Louisiana shows flooded homes after heavy rains flooded the region, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016. Max Becherer AP

At the time, the Red Cross called the event the worst natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast in 2012, according to the World Weather Attribution.

Julia Marnin is a McClatchy National Real-Time reporter covering the Southeast and Northeast while based in New York. She is a graduate of The College of New Jersey and joined McClatchy in 2021. She has previously written for Newsweek, Modern Luxury, Gannett and others.

She lied about the flood that damaged the house, got FEMA payments: the feds

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